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Open Access Rat Sex Differences in Anesthesia

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Studies involving substantially lengthy rat surgeries require extended anesthesia periods and often involve use of sodium pentobarbital (PENT). Results of previous experiments from our laboratory and elsewhere suggest that the duration of anesthesia and the need for anesthetic supplementation may differ between male and female rats. In the study reported here, we induced anesthesia in male and female Sprague Dawley rats (n = 10 for each sex), using a three-step procedure: brief induction with 5% isoflurane inhalation, PENT (50 mg/kg of body weight, i.p), combined with 50 mg of PENT/kg given intragastrically. Adequate anesthesia depth was confirmed by absence of a response to a toe pinch. Plasma PENT concentration was measured at sequential 20-min periods and was found, on average, to be lower (P = 0.03) in male (13.28 ± 1.13 g/ml) than in female (20.27 ± 0.66 g/ml) rats, and decreased more rapidly (P = 0.003) in male rats. Distribution to a fractionally greater lean body mass and more rapid metabolism in males may account for these differences and explain the need for anesthetic supplementation in male, but not female rats.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 2: Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, Department of Surgery, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan 48073

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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